A former staff of the Judiciary and his spouse have been arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a charge which borders on money laundering.
Mr. Joseph Etefia Udoh, a former Registrar with the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court of Justice (FHCJ) and his wife, Mrs. Grace Udoh, were arraigned before Justice Mallong Peter Hoommuck on 12 counts. Mr. Udoh is alleged to have misappropriated an amount exceeding N80 million from money that had been deposited in the court by a litigant. He reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife who was also a staff of the FHCJ but in Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across Nigeria.
When the charges were read to the defendants, they however pleaded not guilty. Their counsel Chief S. M. Essienakak told the court that they had served the prosecution with a bail application and prayed the court to grant them bail on non-stringent conditions, as they would not evade bail.
In response, counsel to ICPC, Shehu Yahaya, fsi, strongly opposed the bail application on the grounds that the attitude of the defendants suggested that if they were granted bail, they might interfere with the processes as four of the witnesses to be called by the prosecution were members of staff of the Kaduna Division of FHCJ, where one of the defendants had served as a Registrar.
After listening to arguments of counsel on both sides, the judge granted the defendants bail in the sum of Ten Million Naira (=N=10,000,000:00) only, with two sureties in like sum who must be members of the legal profession and must own properties in a Government Reserved Area inKaduna.
The matter was adjourned to 28th, 29th, and 30th January, 2020 for continuation of hearing.